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Commemorating the 16th Days of Activism on No Violence Against Women and Children: 25 November – 10 December


Posted: 27 November 2018


South Africa adopted the 16 Days of Activism Campaign in 1998 as one of the intervention strategies towards creating a society free of violence and this year marks the 20th anniversary of the adoption the campaign by the South African government.  However, violence against women and children still pervades our societies on a daily basis with total disregard to the laws and the conventions that our country is signatory to.

The National Development Plan Vision for 2030 provides that in order to realize the vision of safer communities there is a need to focus on the prevention of Gender Based Violence (GBV), through strengthening of response, support, awareness raising interventions, communication and information sharing.

Reflection on the GBV Statistics

South Africa is facing a gender-based violence and femicide epidemic that has reached worrying proportions. Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) recently on 19 June 2018 released a report entitled “Crime against Women in South Africa”.  The report indicated that about 70 813 women experienced sexual offences in 2016/17 as compared to 31 665 women who experienced sexual offences in 2015/16. This was a 53% increase in sexual offences, which Stats SA said was a drastic increase in less than 24 months. As a result of the Stats SA Crime Against Women report, advocacy groups called for stringent measures against gender-based violence following an alarming 117% spike in femicide during 2016/17.

Initiatives Towards Addressing GBV

In 2018, the issue of GBV, and in particular the extreme cases of femicide and women abuse, hit the headlines in South Africa after a number of young women were murdered. Despite the numerous campaigns and interventions by government and civil society organisations (CSOs) around GBV, high levels of sexual assault, rape and femicide still occur in South Africa.

  • In July this year government together with a number of civil society organisations and churches called a 100 Men March to raise awareness and getting men to join in fighting the scourge of violence against women and children.
  • This was followed by a #TotalShutdown March on 01 August 2018.  Participants of the March presented a set of twenty-four Demands to President Ramaphosa. One of the demands was that the President should convene a Gender-based Violence Summit.
  • On the 2nd of August 2018, the Presidency had a meeting with organisers of the march, where a resolution was made for the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJ and CD) to plan, coordinate and execute a GBV summit to address challenges faced by women, especially gender based violence and Femicide. The aims of the Summit was to create a platform of engagement to:
  • Reflect critically on initiatives to date and identify areas of improvement
  • Outline a roadmap to a South Africa free from gender-based violence and femicide
  • Pave the way for the creation of mechanisms and processes for effective coordination
  • Planning and implementation beyond the Summit
  • Establish a commitment to resourcing and accountability.

The summit is therefore considered a historical turning point as it was to provide the opportunity for government, civil society and social movements to work constructively towards eradicating gender based violence.  The Government has thus far responded to two specific demands raised during the August marches notably; conducting a review of national plans to end GBV and the development of a National Action Plan on GBV.

The SALGA Women’s Commission (SWC) attended and joined forces in supporting the National Summit Against Gender Based Violence and Femicide on 1-2 November 2018 together with representatives from civil society organisations, traditional leaders, academics, faith based organisations, labour, business, development agencies, youth, women from both rural areas, urban areas and across the country.  In addition, the SWC continues to support and participate in lobbying and advocacy campaigns against GBV as and when organised by other networks in their respective provinces.

It is important that the 16 Days Campaign is not viewed as a standalone event but as another leg of the #365 Days of Activism Campaign which aims to raise awareness and mobilise members of society especially men to join hands with government in the fight to curb violence against women and children.

#HearMeToo: End Violence against Women and Children
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